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Pneumonia – 5 More Questions You Should Ask Your Doctor

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If you have been diagnosed with pneumonia, you may wish to ask your physician the following five questions:

1. Will I have to undergo any more diagnostic tests besides the sputum test I have already taken?

This depends upon your doctor’s decision. However, the tests commonly used to diagnose pneumonia are:
• Chest X-ray or a CAT Scan – This gives the exact location of pneumonia in the lungs and the extent of infection spread.
• Blood tests help check our white blood cell (WBC) count as well as look for the presence of other disease-causing micro-organisms. An increased WBC count shows the presence of infection and/or inflammation.

• Sputum culture tests--this is a sure shot test that confirms the presence and type of bacteria or micro-organism in the sputum that has caused the pneumonia.
• Physical examination using a stethoscope which will help the doctor hear the tell-tale sounds from the lungs during your breathing. The sounds of bubbling and rasping will confirm the presence of chest fluids in the lung. Fever, pulse and respiration rates are also used along with other techniques to support diagnosis.
• Differential diagnosis may be done by doctors to ensure that some other condition with similar symptoms as pneumonia is not being misdiagnosed. COPD, asthma, pulmonary emboli and pulmonary edema may all be confused with pneumonia-like symptoms.

2. Are there any chances of complications arising from my pneumonia?

Yes. In most cases the treatments are effective enough to get rid of the infection. However, if you belong to a risk group (for example, having a history of alcohol or tobacco abuse, being on immunosuppressants, being older than 65 years of age or younger than 5 years old, having underlying heart, lung diseases or diabetes, being a COPD patient, having genetic issues that would pre-dispose you or being routinely exposed to certain chemicals or pollutants, etc.), pneumonia may be harder to tackle with medicines, take longer to cure and may lead to complications.

Though not very common, the list of possible complications arising from out of pneumonia are:
• Lung abcess – an abcess or cavity that contains pus in it forms in the area where the pneumococcal infection is spread in the lung.
• Acute respiratory distress syndrome may be triggered during respiratory failure due to the double battery of infection and inflammation of the pleural walls. Respiration support may be required such as ventilator or a bi-level positive air pressure machine.
• Infected blood – bacteremia may occur when bacteria passes from the alveoli of the lung anatomy into the blood. Once the blood is contaminated, the bacteria spreads rapidly to other parts of the body
• Sepsis and septic shock may occur when cytokines are released by the body’s immune system as a reaction to the infection.
• Fluid accumulation in the lungs - fluid accumulates in the pleural cavity.
• Empyema – It occurs when the pleural effusion spoken of above gets infected.

3. Has my asthma caused me to have pneumonia?

Not exactly. However, it can make you more susceptible to coming down with pneumonia. As asthma weakens the lungs and their effective functioning, it reduces the lungs' ability to clear out cellular debris and phlegm. So your lungs may be more likely to develop a lung infection. Asthmatics can get themselves vaccinated against flu to cover one angle of developing pneumonia. However, it must be kept in mind that frequent episodes of asthma can cause lung weakening and pave way for more virulent micro-organisms to infect your lungs.

4. What is the prognosis for pneumonia patients?

The outcome depends upon when the treatment was started for the patient. Some pneumonia such as viral and mycoplasmal varieties can take up to 6 weeks to clear up whereas other pneumonia such as bacterial pneumonia can clear in 2-4 weeks. Viral pneumonia has a high death rate compared to mycoplasmal or bacterial pneumonia. Severe adenovirus pneumonia also may result in bronchiolitis obliterans, a reduction in lung volume and lung compliance.

5. What are the prevention techniques that will help me not contract the disease again?

Some effective pneumonia prevention techniques are:
• Good personal hygiene around a person infected with pneumonia
• Use of mask around an area where pneumonia patients are hospitalized
• Get vaccinated against viral influenzae pneumonia and Streptococcus pneumoniae
• Appropriate treatment of underlying conditions such as AIDS, heart, lung or kidney or liver diseases
• Exercise and drink plenty of fluids
• Do not abuse tobacco or alcohol


Mamta Singh is a published author of the books Migraines for the Informed Woman (Publisher: Rupa & Co.) and the upcoming Rev Up Your Life! (Publisher: Hay House India). She is also a seasoned business, creative and academic writer. She is a certified fitness instructor, personal trainer & sports nutritionist through IFA, Florida USA. Mamta is an NCFE-certified Holistic Health Therapist SAC Dip U.K. She is the lead writer and holds Expert Author status in many well-received health, fitness and nutrition sites. She runs her own popular blogs on migraines in women and holistic health. Mamta holds a double Master's Degree in Commerce and Business. She is a registered practitioner with the UN recognised Art of Living Foundation. Link: http://www.migrainingjenny.wordpress.com and http://www.footstrike.wordpress.com

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EmpowHER Guest

When comparing the bacterial-caused atypical pneumonias with these caused by real viruses (excluding bacteria that were wrongly considered as viruses), the term "atypical pneumonia" almost always implies a bacterial etiology and is contrasted with viral pneumonia.

May 24, 2014 - 8:49am
EmpowHER Guest

When comparing the bacterial-caused atypical pneumonias with these caused by real viruses (excluding bacteria that were wrongly considered as viruses), the term "atypical pneumonia" almost always implies a bacterial etiology and is contrasted with viral pneumonia.

May 24, 2014 - 8:44am
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